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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

There's a New Sheriff in Town

Exec John Brown gives Sheriff Dalrymple his badge 
David Dalrymple, a former Major in the New Jersey State Police, was sworn in as Northampton County's newest Sheriff in a brief ceremony on Monday before President Judge Stephen Baratta and about 45 supporters. The ceremony included his wife, daughters and a very happy Acting Sheriff Chris Zieger, who will now return to his role as Chief Deputy.

As is the case with anything involving Northampton County, nothing went right. The ceremony was supposed to start at 11:30 am in Courtroom 4, but testimony was still being taken in a domestic dispute. This couple was going to walk into the arms of about 30 very large deputies, until someone realized they'd both keel over. So everything was pushed over to the next courtroom.

Freemansburg Police Chief Todd Pantuso, has worked with Sheriff Dalrymple
President Judge Stephen Baratta, when he was able to make it over, was about as relaxed as I've ever seen him. He asked for the written oath, which the Sheriff would have to sign, but nobody remembered it. No problem. Baratta picked up the phone in the courtroom and called Court Administrators to request one.

Then he asked Dalrymple for his Bible. But being from New Jersey, the closest thing he could come up with was a Bruce Springsteen CD.

PJ Stephen Baratta jokes around with Brown and Dalrymple. 
"You guys don't come prepared for anything, Geez," joked Baratta. "I'll have to get my own bible."

He returned in a minute or two with the Holy Book, which was held by the Sheriffs' daughters as he recited the oath.

The coolest part, at least for me, was when it was all over and Sheriff Dalyrymple got his badge, a seven-pointed star that serves as a symbol of goodness in many religions.

Northampton County is one of just two counties in the state that appoint their Sheriff, instead of electing him. There is a growing sentiment among Council Democrats to return to an elected Sheriff, and legislation introduced on Thursday night will require all future cabinet officials and row officers to be county residents or commit to moving here within one year after appointment.

Lamont McClure, the sole Council member to oppose Dalrymple, has contended that the Sheriff's Office is a "constitutional" office who must stand for election and be a resident. Article IX, Section 4 of the Pa. Constitution does identify the Sheriff as a "county officer", but adds that those provisions have no application to "home rule" municipalities.

Updated 12:05 pm, to identify the Pa. Constitutional provision that does make the Sheriff a constitutional officer.


Anonymous said...

Wow, this is complicated Bernie. I do believe at the tome of the Home Rule Charter there was every thought that top county positions would be filled by residents. However, over the years that has been stretched to region. At the end of the day, unless there is some law I am unaware of I believe the Penna. constitution will prevent county council from mandating county residency. I do understand why people would like the cabinet to be local for quite a few good reasons.

As to the sheriff, I think the same applies. While under law elected sheriffs must be residents, once again the Home Rule charter and appointed positions make that point very vague, I do not believe the Executive is restricted as to who they pick since it is an appointment and not an election.

This has been brought up in Bethlehem were cabinet officials seem to come from everywhere but Bethlehem. One lives up above Bangor for God's sake. Still I don't think it is illegal by any stretch, political but not illegal.

While I am one that has never bought the old you have to "get the best candidate" wherever they live. Most of these picks whether the county or Bethlehem are political just as much as qualified.

Now after all of that, my biggest concern is that an appointed sheriff is better than an elected sheriff. I think the Dem's on county council are playing the populist game for votes. As to the residency rule, I agree emotionally but still think it is not legal under Penna. law. I also believe that the only reason McClure, Kraft and Werner are doing this is pure politics. I see them as political opportunists and not caring one bit where the people come from. Even though Brown keeps shooting himself in the foot with great accuracy, this group of Dem's with their lapdog Barron are just piling on for political points hoping to use this to push one of them into the Executive seat.

Not one of them has the right stuff for that job.

Anonymous said...

2am anonymous and full of shit. You must be the pr. firm or someone who's worried that Brown will never be re-elected.

the other Ron said...

There are pro's and con's for elected office versus appointed office. The N.Co. Home Rule Charter makes the office of Sheriff appointed, so, so it is. (The only county in the state that has made this choice.) Live with it, or move to change it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

10:17, The Sheriff in KLuzerne County is now an appointred official.

Bernie O'Hare said...

1:56, I am no Pa. constitutional law scholar. Article IX, Section 4, pertaining to county government, identifies the Sheriff as a "county officer" and even provides all county officers must be elected. But at the same time, Section 2 provides for home rule with optional forms of government approved by law. So that has constitutional force as well.

As for residency, I understand the desire to hire from within. But in these days, where it is so difficult to find someone willing to take a job that might last only 4 years and that puts a person under the microscope, I do not believe residency should be more than a consideration.

Anonymous said...

anon 9:12 sounds like Kraft. All shoot from the hip temper.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Kraft signs his comments, and is in Disneyland right now.

Anonymous said...

Yeah that true you can't post on the web from Disneyland.

Anonymous said...

Kraft does not always sign Bernie. Trust me on this....

Bernie O'Hare said...

... says someone whoi has not signed.

Anonymous said...

I sign. Why would I not sign?

Peter J.Cochran said...

Let them work out the details .This new Sheriff may just bring some new seasoning in the dinner table. He enjoyed a great reputation in NJSP and the folks in Trenton all know his capabilities. WAIT! Be patient .